Interview with Monica Linford
Monica created and developed the ChiBall Method™ through a lifelong commitment to dance, fitness training and the study of oriental medicine. Monica is an international author, speaker and consultant for mind body programmes and concepts.
Q. The ChiBall Method is a completely new exercise technique to many. Tell us briefly what people should expect from a ChiBall session?
A. The ChiBall Method™ uses a synergy of six exercise systems reflect the four key components of traditional Chinese medicine; chi, yin & yang, the meridian system and the five elements theory. Every class includes a sequence of Tai Chi & Qi Gong, ChiBall Dance, Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais Method and Meditation.
What makes a ChiBall class truly unique is that it changes with the seasons and uses a particular exercise element to reflect the energy of the season.
The ChiBall class format will also emphasises the yin/yang cycle, cultivates chi and harmonises and balances the organ and meridian system. Certain organ partnerships present themselves each season for their ‘annual service’.
Attention and intention is given to these organs by observing imbalances that may be present using meridian tapping and specific exercises to relieve stiffness, tension and any other signs of stagnated chi that may be held in the body.
Q. Do you find that the ChiBall Method attracts a particular age demographic or is this something that fits everyone?
A. The ChiBall Method has appealed to all age demographics. It can be adapted to suit all ages, interests and situations from children, elderly, professional dancers, athletes and corporate health.
Q. Is the main theme for ChiBall as an exercise regime or as a method for combating chronic disease or are these two facets interlinked?
A. Through the exercises and its philosophical foundation the ChiBall Method™ is a holistic therapeutic programme that can promote general health and wellbeing, aid healing and be tailored to specific health challenges.
Q. Are there any pre requisites for taking part in a ChiBall session? Is it an ‘instant hit’ or ‘learned’ activity?
A. The key pre-requisite to taking a classical ChiBall is the willingness to surrender to the process and let go. The ChiBall experience is most often an instant hit by those who encounter it. Sometimes participants find the Tai Chi, Qi Gong and meditative sequences tedious if they have cultivated a habit of excessive stress and anxiety. Slowing down can be a challenge to them. The ChiBall dance sequences are used to de-toxify, release and relax muscular and mental stress and tension which makes it easy to then surrender to relaxation and meditation – the most vital life enhancing element of all.
Q. Is there a right and wrong way to practice the ChiBall Method? In answering this does this therefore make the ChiBall Method better in a group (with a teacher) or at home activity?
A. There are many teachers out there who claim to be teaching ChiBall. Their classes are fast paced, do not include Oriental philosophy and the most important component of all – deep relaxation and meditation. Beware! This is not ChiBall. Classical ChiBall is a concept that embraces the philosophy of the Tao, respects universal energy, and is authentic in its intention. It is an internal journey to self-awareness. The participant should leave a ChiBall session feeling deeply relaxed, centred and rejuvenated with a sense of having ‘come home’ energetically.
The principles of the ChiBall Method™ can be practised anywhere:
- 10 minutes of very simple Qi Gong sequences to regulate the breath after working on a computer for several hours will disperse stress, clear the mind and enhance concentration
- Basic yoga postures will strengthen, tone and improve self-awareness
- Pelvic tilting on the ChiBall will relieve low back pain, relax the breathing, calm the mind and bring us back to centre
- Neck Circles with your head resting on the ChiBall disperses mental and emotional stress and aids deep restful sleep
Q. The ChiBall Method appears multi faceted with other existing exercise and health related practices. However can you explain the Feldenkrais Method and how this integrates into the ChiBall Method?
A. The Feldenkrais Method represents the Metal element in ChiBall. The associated organ partnership is the lung and large intestine. Exchange and elimination are their tasks both physically and metaphorically. This relates to receiving new information and ideas into our lives and the ability to let go of long term habits and patterns that no longer serve us. Feldenkrais Method re-educates the motor cortex of the brain to chose new effortless and more efficient pathways for movement – to make movements that have become stiff and awkward, easy and elegant. In this respect, it is a perfect metaphor for ChiBall. The gentle, subtle, enquiring Feldenkrais lessons are an ideal preparation for the meditation practise that follows this section of the class.
Q. In what way is the ChiBall Method connected with Traditional Chinese Medicine?
A. The ChiBall Method incorporates the philosophy of Chi, yin & yang, the meridian system and the five elements. Chi is cultivated through mindful movement. Yin and Yang is balanced by using movements and exercises that are slow then fast, forward/back, right/left, soft/intense, energetic/calm, large/small, gross/subtle, standing/seated, with intent and focus on external/internal, etc. The meridian system is fundamental to understanding why certain movements and exercises can heal and rejuvenate.
The six exercise disciplines represent the five seasonal elements:
- Tai Chi & Qi Gong represents spring and wood– a rising yang energy;
- ChiBall Dance and Yoga is summer and fire– a radiant yang energy;
- Pilates is late summer and the earth element – a descending yang energy;
- Feldenkrais is autumn and metal – a rising yin energy and finally,
- Deep relaxation and meditation is winter for water – condensed yin.
Q. Your ChiBalls come in different colours and fragrances. What benefits do these fragrances and colours have on our mind and what are they?
A. The ChiBalls and their associated fragrance are used for mood enhancing effect:
|Red for energy, stamina, passion and vitality.||FRAGRANCE: Cinnamon to relieve physical and emotional exhaustion and depression. It stimulates the circulation and aids digestion and is emotionally warming.|
Orange for confidence, playfulness and spontaneity, happiness and joy.
|FRAGRANCE: Sweet Orange helps us express physical enjoyment, and promotes self-confidence, courage, positive mental outlook and creativity.|
Yellow for personal power, self worth, self-knowledge, self-discipline and courage.
|FRAGRANCE: Lemongrass refreshes, fortifies and enlivens the spirit, brings concentration and focus to the mind and disperses emotional confusion.|
Green for abundance, love, friendships, wealth and good health.
|FRAGRANCE: Geranium balances, nurtures, soothes the spirit and helps us to feel stable, tranquil and secure in life.|
Blue to restore courage, resourcefulness and will-power.
|FRAGRANCE: Juniper Berry helps dissolve fear, boosts our sense of self-worth, consolidates our will power and restores Kidney ‘chi’.|
|Purple for peace, inspiration, faith and recognition of our true nature.||FRAGRANCE: Lavender promotes calmness, serenity and harmony of the mind and spirit.|
Q. Do you find that some of your students alternate ChiBalls in accordance with how they feel when exercising on a particular day or are there set ChiBall sessions to avoid conflicting states of mind and activity within a group?
A. The students are encouraged to select a ChiBall that perfectly suits their mood/frame of mind on that particular day. The teacher however, when observing the overall class selection adjust the energy of the movements or exercises to suit. For example: a class that has selected more than 60% of yang colours (red, yellow, orange) are requesting a class that is more energetic in nature. A predominance of yin colours (green, blue, purple) are demonstrating a more reflective mood. The class then becomes more internal, calming and meditative.
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